Racing Winners Named at Local Pinewood Derby

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(Left to right) Xavier Vo, James Jelline and Mimi Chapin were the top three winners in the 2021 Pinewood Derby.

Many consider the Indianapolis 500 as the top car racing event of the year. There are some residents who may dispute that.

Cub Pack 223 held its annual Pinewoood Derby race on May 16 at St. Matthew’s. There were 32 entries and the audience consisted of Cub Scouts, friends and family.

Each child was given a pine block racing car kit, which includes a block of wood, axels (aka nails) and wheels. The contestants were given latitude in design, but the final car could not exceed five ounces.

Although the Scouts worked on their derby cars as a den, each Scout builds their own car with the help of a parent.

The overall winner was Mimi Chapin with her car, the Pink Pig. She is a member of Tiger Den #4, which is first graders.

“My Den worked hard on building our cars,” Chapin said. “We worked together and built them over three Den meetings. The Cub Scouts motto is ‘Do your best’ and we did our best on our cars.”

She described in detail the steps she took. “We planned the design. We went to a wood shop and made the car. We got to use a drill press to make the hole to add the weight,” Chapin said, noting that her car was thin — and painting the car took some ingenuity. “First we bounced on a trampoline to shake up the spray paint. We painted the car, then sanded it and painted it again.” (Probably more time on the trampoline.)

“Next, we hammered in the axles to put on the wheels,” Chapin continued. “We tested the car a couple of times and used graphite to make it fast. It was so exciting.”

How did Chapin come up with the name for her car? “My favorite animal is a pig, and my second favorite color is pink. My car is the Pink Pig.” She further explained that “The pink pig is the name of a real race car.”

Her car was also judged the “Most Humorous.”

Chapin is planning to take her skills to the next level. “Now I am looking forward to building a rocket for the Space Derby,” she said. “My older brother, William, is a Scout and he made rockets that won 1st place, 2nd place and 18th place. I hope he helps me build a winning rocket!”

Second place in the Pinewood Derby went to James Jelline, with his car Black Flame. He is a member of Bear Den #3, which is third graders. His tips for making a fast car were: “We put a lot of graphite on the wheels and angled the body of the car.”

Jelline’s car was named because “it was black and had a flame on it.”

Third place went to Xavier Vo and his car, the Flying Dart. The name came with help from his sister who said, “It’s going to be fast like a Nerf gun dart.”

Vo watched a YouTube video on how to make a fast derby car but “we didn’t buy graphite powder, and at the last minute we thought it might help.” He used a #2 pencil and crushed it into powder and put some inside the wheel hole where the axle went.

Recognition was also given to Scouts and cars in the following categories: Best Design – Arielle Green; Most Colorful – Luke Sibley; Most Unique – Wylan Maki; Most Patriotic – Owen Hunt; Most Scoutlike – Lincoln Plume; and Best Effort – Dylan Pearlstein.

Next year, maybe there should be a category for most delicious—and if that were the case, the Milky Way car entered by second grader Jack Pokrywka of Wolf Den #6 would be a shoo-in.

Cub Master and resident Charles Curtis was the race announcer. Last year, 23 Pack members entered cars in the derby, but it was a virtual event. After the cars were designed, they were left on the doorstep at the home of Joanna and Charles Curtis, pack leaders.

“We set up the track and used Zoom to connect the race to the participating Scouts,” Joanna Curtis said. “Some Scouts shared the Zoom link and password with family members across the country, who were able to watch the race.” This year the event was live.

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